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BBC Archives – Commentary
 
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BBC Archives

16th November 2002


Eddie's Archive

CD 1
BBC Radio 1 Friday Rock Show, 14th November 1979
1. Iron Maiden (Harris)
2. Running Free (Harris, Di'Anno)
3. Transylvania (Harris)
4. Sanctuary (Harris, Di'Anno, Murray)
Reading Festival, 28th August 1982
5. Wrathchild (Harris)
6. Run To The Hills (Harris)
7. Children Of The Damned (Harris)
8. The Number Of The Beast (Harris)
9. 22, Acacia Avenue (Harris, Smith)
10. Transylvania (Harris)
11. The Prisoner (Smith, Harris)
12. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Harris)
13. Phantom Of The Opera (Harris)
14. Iron Maiden (Harris)
 
CD 2
Reading Festival, 23rd August 1980
1. Prowler (Harris)
2. Remember Tomorrow (Harris, Di'Anno)
3. Killers (Di'Anno, Harris)
4. Running Free (Harris, Di'Anno)
5. Transylvania (Harris)
6. Iron Maiden (Harris)
Donington Monsters Of Rock, 20th August 1988
7. Moonchild (Smith, Dickinson)
8. Wrathchild (Harris)
9. Infinite Dreams (Harris)
10. The Trooper (Harris)
11. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (Harris)
12. The Number Of The Beast (Harris)
13. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Harris)
14. Iron Maiden (Harris)

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Along with the other two double-CD recordings contained in the Eddie's Archive set, the BBC Archives are also essential to the Iron Maiden die-hard fan and collector. The first four tracks (from the Radio 1 Friday Rock Show back in 1979) are for the first time made officially available, and their quality is far superior to that of the bootlegs that could be found up until now. The line-up has Tony Parsons on guitar prior to the arrival of Dennis Stratton, as well as Doug Sampson on drums before he left to be replaced by ace-drummer Clive Burr. The four tracks are obviously played quite differently to the later versions of the songs and offer an interesting comparison with the current Iron Maiden sound some 23 years later.

The rest of the tracks are excellent live recordings of Maiden gigs back in 1980, 1982 and 1988, highlighting the raw power and energy the band had in those days. This double-CD, along with Beast Over Hammersmith, will certainly delight all those who like Iron Maiden's live recordings, not only for their historical value, but also for their quality – although some bootlegs previously available had a good sound, nothing compares to a proper official recording.

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Remember tomorrow? That's what we're all trying to do now, as we recall those distant times when Iron Maiden were only just beginning their incredible journey. And guess what? The Friday Rock Show was there every significant step of the way. In fact, my career is so strangely tied in with Maiden's fortunes.

October 1978 – The birth of an institution. The start of 'The Friday Rock Show', presented by Tommy Vance and produced by yours truly. Little did we realise how much we would transform the habits of the nation's youth. No longer would they hit the pubs and clubs on a Friday night; instead they huddled round their radios eagerly soaking up the latest and greatest sounds from the world of rock and metal. Those who couldn't hear it live went to any length to get the show recorded by parents and friends so that they could hear it later.

Each week, our mailbags bulged with letters from all over the country, sent by listeners who gratefully informed us that we had transformed their lives. What a trip and what a responsibility. The fact is that we weren't the only rock radio show in Britain (there were other on local radio stations), but a rock community was forming around the show, we were becoming an institution, later immortalised most famously by Saxon in their song 'Denim & Leather'.

We were, of course, fortunate, that our show started just as punk blew itself out, and bands such as Judas Priest, AC/DC, Motorhead and UFO were making major commercial inroads. But more importantly for us, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was starting to happen. Up and down the country, young hopefuls were donning denim and leather, adapting the energy and agression of punk and flooding it with metal attitude. Once more, the UK was taking the lead on the contemporary music scene – and 'The Friday Rock Show', just like TotalRock today, was right at the cutting edge.

And it was because of the NWOBHM that October 1979 saw the start of the FRS sessions, recorded in Studio 6, the latest Neve 16 track studio at the BBC's Maida Vale studios. The first band we locked down on tape were Def Leppard, followed quickly by Samson (with a young singer called Bruce Bruce – he'll crop up again here) and Praying Mantis; it was the cream of the NWOBHM crop. But the real jewel was the fourth band to come in: Iron Maiden.

They had become the heart and soul of the movement, adored by fans and media alike, and to get them in for a session so early was something of a coup for us. And listening back to the tracks from this distance, they still have a sense of purpose and adventure that underlined why everyone believed Maiden were on their way to massive success. It also helped having a top engineer like Dave 'ZZ' Dade on board; who as it turned out, was to become the permanent FRS session engineer and was involved in all the recordings I did with the band.

The next time I met Maiden professionally was at the Reading Festival in 1980. It was the year when NWOBHM really broke through to the masses, and the festival reflected this in the bill. At this time, there was little doubt that, when it came to rock and metal, Reading was the sole British summer festival that offered fans the opportunity to really check out what was happening. In 1980, the two hottest British bands of the moment – Def Leppard and Maiden – appeared. The latter were booked onto the second day of the festival – Saturday, August 23 – appearing second to headliners UFO. Ironically, Samson also played on that day, with that man Bruce Bruce leading from the front.

Maiden received a rapturous reception that day, reflecting their growing prominence, and their performance was excellent, full of the vitality of youth, yet also having that extra frisson that comes from knowing you're on a winning streak. And the BBC recording of that day certainly captured the moment.

Two years later (August 28, 1982, to be precise), Maiden were back at Reading, with two significant changes: they were headlining the event this time, while both guitarist Dennis Stratton and vocalist Paul Di'Anno had gone. In their stead were Adrian Smith and one Bruce Dickinson, who had made his name as...yep, Bruce Bruce.

With the 'Number Of The Beast' album having taken Maiden to a new level, this was a band who weren't threatening to make the big time – they'd already arrived. As Bruce says during the band's set they'd just spent three-and-a-half months touring America, which not only saw them accused of corrupting that nation's youth with their satanic philosophy (!), but more importantly becoming tighter than ever. As I recall, there were some sound problems on stage that day, which makes the quality of this recording all the more satisfying. Not only can you hear how well the band played, but also the overwhelming enthusiasm of the crowd. Topping a bill that also featured names like the Tygers Of Pan Tang, Gary Moore and Blackfoot, Maiden were hotter than ever.

Six years later, the band reached arguably their crowning moment: Donington, August 20, 1988. Now established as the summer festival for rock and metal, Donington was in its ninth year. Following the headlining footsteps of such giants as Rainbow, AC/DC, Status Quo, Whitesnake, ZZ Top, Ozzy and Bon Jovi, Maiden simply outdid them all. They pulled in the biggest crowd in the festival's history – estimates put the attendance at over 100,000 – and assembled perhaps the most impressive bill ever, being backed up by Kiss, David Lee Roth, Megadeth, Guns N'Roses, Anthrax and Helloween.

Reflecting the importance of the occasion, the BBC assembled the biggest production team we'd ever had at Donington – it was a massive operation that took a lot of coordination, and we used our state-of-the-art SSL equipped mobile studio to capture what was going on. And what was going on still sounds spectacular and huge even now. This was a landmark event in the history of Maiden and British metal – and I'm delighted that I was there to capture the atmosphere as well as the songs.

Over the nine years and four events, 'The Friday Rock Show' can justly claim to have been there at the key points in Iron Maiden's career. And I am proud that the quality of the recordings was so good that certain tracks were even chosen to be released as bonus tracks on singles. This is the first time that all of these recordings have been brought together and it includes some tracks that were not on the original broadcasts. Hopefully, it'll not only bring back memories of Maiden, but also fond reminiscences of 'The Friday Rock Show'.


TONY WILSON (BBC Radio 1 producer 1979–1995) – From the CD booklet.


 

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